Houston, we have a problem
December 7, 2018
After 6 days tethered to a very expensive dock in Cape Canaveral, and we still can’t figure out the problem on the drive generator, we decided to take the next window south to get to Ft. Lauderdale, where there will be mechanics who can help.
Diagnosing the drive generator was an exercise in patience, fortitude, and limberness (is that a word?) First, we thought the alternator was bad. So, Erik bought a new one and we swapped it out. In fact, he was so confident he bought two. Problem is that it wasn’t the alternator. Next, we thought the problem might be a fuse. So, he tested every fuse one by one. Still not the issue. Because we were losing 15 amps, Erik pored over the generator’s schematic, but couldn’t figure out why this looked so damn different from the actual parts. So, he contacted the previous owner who apologized that he never updated the manual with the right schematic. Oye.
After emailing the right schematic to us, Erik figured it was a burnt-out relay switch. He located and removed the relays and thankfully, we had a rental car by this time. We went to the first auto parts store. Nothing. The second one sent us to a third, and the third was hilarious (but very helpful.)
Napa Auto Parts was short-handed. The guy behind the counter was on a call and mouthed to us he’d be right with us. Until the phone rang again. After 4 calls and 20 minutes, he asked how he could help us. As we started explaining what we needed, the phone rang again. Another 15 minutes and 3 calls later, he starts looking in the parts book for the switches we needed. But as he walks down the aisle, the phone rings again.
We were there an hour and half and walked out with the needed switches though. It’s too bad that these weren’t the problem. We were officially at a NO GO and would need to hire in the big guns to figure this out.
Now, y’all know I still work full-time and I needed to get back to Cali for an important planning meeting. Since we presumed we’d be in Ft. Lauderdale by the time I had to fly, I booked my flight from there. This delay in Canaveral amplified an already stressful time for us. The marina cost us $113 per night (with no weekly price break allowed) – so being stuck in Canaveral for 2 weeks was not a fun or cheap prospect for us. So – I decided I’d have to rent a car and drive from Canaveral to Lauderdale the day before my flight. And get a cheap motel. I always love traveling to exotic locations where they provide you with the toilet seat ‘sealed for your protection’ sticker. Because that is the least of my concerns actually – the busy print on the carpet and flimsy bedspread are my bigger concerns. True fact: I once traveled with a black light and Lysol.
Anyway, the next window for Erik to sail down to Lauderdale was Monday and with my flight first thing Tuesday morning, we decided to hire crew to help Erik sail to Ft. Lauderdale. We found a husband and wife who sold all their stuff, bought an RV and drove from Texas to Ft. Lauderdale in search of their perfect boat. The only problem was, how would they get to Canaveral?
Since I had rented a car to drive to Ft. Lauderdale anyway, it just made practical sense to go pick them up, have them take me to my motel, and then they could take the car back to the rental company near the marina and walk to the dock. Done.
With plans settled, Erik and I set out to make the best out of a crappy situation – we decided to explore the food scene. What a joke! Of the four restaurants we ate at, all of which were apparently highly rated, the little Mexican place we happened upon on our way to find relay switches had the best food. The rest, let’s just say I won’t carve a notch on my foodie post for this city.
Speaking of carving notches in posts, after one particularly disappointing meal, we decided to walk a bit before calling an Uber. As we walked and laughed, Erik noticed we were standing outside a strip club. He told me this street has the most strip clubs he’s ever seen (he’d taken a bike ride earlier to find some parts.) Trying to turn lemons into lemonade, and possibly a bit buzzed from the 3 glasses of wine I’d already consumed, I gleefully announced “we are going in!”
For whatever reason, I didn’t feel weird going inside and paying the cover charge. Which by the way was a meager $10. Waiting in line, I could see at least a dozen ladies wearing little more than a smile and CFM stilettos. OK, one girl was wearing wedges – a look that doesn’t go well with a g-string if you ask me. By comparison, I felt completely overdressed in my ripped jeans, sweater, and slip on sneakers. But hey, sailor girls don’t dress to impress landlubbers. Am I right?? I do think Cape Canaveral is pretty progressive though. One of the ladies who approached us was actually likely a dude, and with a smile we said no to whatever he was offering.
Erik ended up leaving Tuesday morning with the crew, and I flew to California. His sail south was uneventful for a change, even though he had to power the drives with the house generator, but the point is: he got there. And I couldn’t wait to fly home and be back on board.
Next: Very expensive repairs in less-than-exotic locations